Branch Instructor – 1st Dan Black Belt
1983: At school, I was frequently picked on because I was small and a little quirky. I looked to martial arts as a way of defending myself against bullying and the hope that once I did so once or twice, that it would stop.
1984: I initially started with Zen Do Kai Karate when I was fourteen, and it gave me confidence and did indeed help me to overcome the issue I had with being bullied. However, there was always a feeling that there had to be something more than just the physical side of martial arts.
1987: Shortly after I was awarded my brown belt in Zen Do Kai, a friend invited me to train with his Tae Kwon Do club with Master Glenn Parmley. After getting well and truly knocked on my butt by his mid-level students, it was immediately obvious that I was looking at another level, both in terms of the capability of the instructor and students, as well as the whole philosophy behind the art. I knew that I had found my home and relinquished my brown belt (the last belt prior to becoming a black belt) and joined the club as a 4th Gup (blue belt with three stripes, four belts from black belt).
1991: I trained hard with Parmley Dojang for four years, and finally earned my 1st Dan black belt. What struck me when I was awarded my 1st Dan was that I realised just how little I really knew. I recognised then that earning my black belt wasn’t the end of my journey, it was just the beginning.
When I first started to train, I thought that martial arts would simply be a tool for me to keep myself safe from bullies. What I didn’t understand then was that it would permeate throughout every aspect of my life. The confidence I learned helped me to be successful in my career. The discipline helped me to successfully earn a first class honours degree and write several books while managing my time with full time work and a family.
Martial arts to me is the balance of physical, psychological and philosophical. It’s the understanding that to be truly balanced we have to find the centre in ourselves. As we apply our techniques, we need to be centred physically. Psychologically, we push ourselves to do more than we believe we can. Philosophically, it’s keeping ourselves open to learning new things and acceptance that we still have much to learn.
What is even more amazing is when you realise that these same aspects apply to everything in our lives.